Food for thought. Seated in groups of hundreds and fifties, some 5,000 people who had come to Jesus eat their fill on just five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:13–21; Mark 6:30–44; Luke 9:10–17; John 6:1–14). French artist James J. Tissot (1836–1902), in The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, places the event on a mountain in accordance with the account in John. This episode and other feeding miracles allude to the manna from God that fed the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years (Exodus 16).

The feeding miracles in Mark also replicate the Last Supper in that Jesus blesses, breaks and distributes the bread (compare Mark 6:41–44, 8:5–7 and 14:22–25). On yet another symbolic level, the feeding of the children of Israel in the desert and the feeding miracles in the Gospels prefigure the messianic banquet that the faithful may expect in the Kingdom of God.